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Why Chinese home appliances makers are doing sports marketing?

Tuesday, 08 Aug 2017 21:17   |   By Chen Yaping

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Living in the digital era, it’s no longer enough to plaster ads to get customers’ attention. For example, marketers of home appliances should engage their customers through diverse marketing strategies. One particular way of doing so is through sports marketing.

For Chinese home appliance companies, sports marketing is all about establishing a deep relationship with sports enthusiasts all over the world; making them aware of the brand and hopefully turning them into the brand’s target customers.

Likewise, Chinese electronics manufacturer Hisense has been using sports sponsorship to build recognition outside of China. As a maker of flat-screen TVs, mobile phones, appliances and other products, the brand has dedicated its sponsorship budget to sports like tennis, motorsports, soccer and marathons.

It has sponsored major sporting events and teams, including UEFA Euro 2016, the Australian Open, NASCAR’s Xfinity series, Joe Gibbs Racing and Germany’s FC Schalke 04. Hisense is the current title sponsor of Melbourne Park Multi-Purpose Venue, a part of the National Tennis Center in Australia. It has also become the sponsor of 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2018 FIFA World Cup tournaments, and signed up as strategic partners with the Championship side Aston Villa F.C.

So why are Chinese home appliance brands so fascinated with sports marketing?

Let’s take the TV sales market as an example. The younger generation today is quite different from the generation that grew up with TV’s. They would rather stream highlights of a soccer game through social media than go home to watch it on a TV.

The shift in the way young people consume sports content has had a great effect on sports sponsorships today. As viewers become more interested in fragmented content—turning away from traditional channels—brands must provide premium content and services to their young customers instead of merely selling hardware as they did in the past.

Meanwhile, sponsors are also looking to partner with clubs, leagues or tournaments to deliver more brand exposure and hopefully reach a younger audience.

Therefore, Hisense’s sports marketing model has become widely recognized and adopted by its Chinese rivals:

  • -Konka has recently become the premium sponsor of the Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning Football Club and the official partner of La Liga in Greater China.

  • -Little Swan expanded its fan base all over the world through its title sponsorship of the 2017 Snooker World Cup, which took place from July 3 to 9.

  • -Midea Group renewed an agreement in 2016 with the Chinese Swimming Association and signed an extension with the International Swimming Federation (FINA) to renew their partnership until 2017.

  • -Gree Electric Appliances was an official partner of 2015 IIHF Women's World Hockey Championship.

President of the multimedia business Konka Group, Chang Dong, said that the future growth in opportunities for Konka's color TV business will lie in product upgrades. For it’s OLED TV brand, Konka needs to increase revenue through large-scale overseas expansion due to saturation of the Chinese market.

"In the next three to five years, we will consider overseas brand-building our strategy, under which we plan to take steps into developing countries before entering developed ones," Chang said.

In this regard, sports marketing has become the best platform that brands can engage in to raise brand awareness in the international market. If a brand doesn’t have a clear sports sponsorship strategy, there is a chance that it may miss a chunk of the audience that it wants to reach.

The Chinese TV manufacturer TCL has advanced its international position through partnerships with college and professional sports teams. Its sporting partnerships include UCLA athletics (football and basketball), San Jose Earthquakes, the Rose Bowl and the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx. Up to now, the brand, as it were, has earned itself to be “one of the fastest growing consumer electronics brands in North America.”

As Chris Larson, TCL vice president of sales and marketing, said, “We consistently see in our research and sales data that a large portion of our buyers list ‘sports watching’ as a driver behind their purchase. To build on this natural connection of our TVs and great sports content that fans love, we have expanded our efforts to reach sports fans.”

As the home appliance competition continues to become much fiercer, it is expected that an increasing number of Chinese home appliance brands will begin to imiplement sports sponsorship strategies in the near future.

Proofread by William Logsdon 

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